What better way to start the new year than by focusing on renewal and regeneration—in this case, the regeneration of America’s struggling rural economies through support for organic food and farmers.
The stark reality is this: The rural communities that the vast majority of us depend on to grow our food suffer some of the highest poverty rates in the U.S.
The nonprofit Feeding America reports that 75 percent of U.S. counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are in rural areas. And 86 percent of the counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity are rural.
The statistics for rural farmers are even more bleak. A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture—farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters—commit suicide at a rate higher than any other occupation. The study said the suicide rate for agricultural workers in 17 states was nearly five times higher compared with that in the general population.
How do we turn these numbers around? How do we provide hope for rural farmers and communities?
One way is to take our farming system back from corporate agribusiness and return it to local farmers—by providing assistance and incentives to help those farmers transition to regenerative organic farming methods and build local and regional food hubs.
More support for local regenerative organic food and farming systems means better food, better health, a cleaner environment—and healthier local economies.
And from all of us at OCA, here’s to a healthy, regenerative New Year!